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A Century of Ambivalence, Second Expanded Edition

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323 Pages
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<P>Now back in print in a new edition!<BR>A Century of Ambivalence<BR>The Jews of Russia and the Soviet Union, 1881 to the Present<BR>Second, Expanded Edition<BR>Zvi Gitelman</P><P>A richly illustrated survey of the Jewish historical experience in the Russian Empire, the Soviet Union, and the post-Soviet era.</P><P>"Anyone with even a passing interest in the history of Russian Jewry will want to own this splendid... book." —Janet Hadda, Los Angeles Times</P><P>"... a badly needed historical perspective on Soviet Jewry.... [Gitelman] is evenhanded in his treatment of various periods and themes, as well as in his overall evaluation of the Soviet Jewish experience.... A Century of Ambivalence is illuminated by an extraordinary collection of photographs that vividly reflect the hopes, triumphs and agonies of Russian Jewish life." —David E. Fishman, Hadassah Magazine </P><P>"Wonderful pictures of famous personalities, unknown villagers, small hamlets, markets and communal structures combine with the text to create an uplifting [book] for a broad and general audience." —Alexander Orbach, Slavic Review</P><P>"Gitelman’s text provides an important commentary and careful historic explanation.... His portrayal of the promise and disillusionment, hope and despair, intellectual restlessness succeeded by swift repression enlarges the reader’s understanding of the dynamic forces behind some of the most important movements in contemporary Jewish life." —Jane S. Gerber, Bergen Jewish News</P><P>"... a lucid and reasonably objective popular history that expertly threads its way through the dizzying reversals of the Russian Jewish experience." —Village Voice</P><P>A century ago the Russian Empire contained the largest Jewish community in the world, numbering about five million people. Today, the Jewish population of the former Soviet Union has dwindled to half a million, but remains probably the world’s third largest Jewish community. In the intervening century the Jews of that area have been at the center of some of the most dramatic events of modern history—two world wars, revolutions, pogroms, political liberation, repression, and the collapse of the USSR. They have gone through tumultuous upward and downward economic and social mobility and experienced great enthusiasms and profound disappointments. In startling photographs from the archives of the YIVO Institute for Jewish Research and with a lively and lucid narrative, A Century of Ambivalence traces the historical experience of Jews in Russia from a period of creativity and repression in the second half of the 19th century through the paradoxes posed by the post-Soviet era. This redesigned edition, which includes more than 200 photographs and two substantial new chapters on the fate of Jews and Judaism in the former Soviet Union, is ideal for general readers and classroom use.</P><P>Zvi Gitelman is Professor of Political Science and Director of the Jean and Samuel Frankel Center for Judaic Studies at the University of Michigan. He is author of Jewish Nationality and Soviet Politics: The Jewish Sections of the CPSU, 1917–1930 and editor of Bitter Legacy: Confronting the Holocaust in the USSR (Indiana University Press). </P><P>Published in association with YIVO Institute for Jewish Research</P><P>Contents<BR>Introduction<BR>Creativity versus Repression: The Jews in Russia, 1881–1917<BR>Revolution and the Ambiguities of Liberation<BR>Reaching for Utopia: Building Socialism and a New Jewish Culture<BR>The Holocaust<BR>The Black Years and the Gray, 1948–1967<BR>Soviet Jews, 1967–1987: To Reform, Conform, or Leave?<BR>The "Other" Jews of the Former USSR: Georgian, Central Asian, and Mountain Jews<BR>The Post-Soviet Era: Winding Down or Starting Up Again?<BR>The Paradoxes of Post-Soviet Jewry</P>
<P>Preliminary Table of Contents:</P><P>Introduction<BR>1. Creativity versus Repression: The Jews in Russia, 1881-1917<BR>2. Revolution and the Ambiguities of Liberation<BR>3. Reaching for Utopia: Building Socialism and a New Jewish Culture<BR>4. The Holocaust<BR>5. The Black Years and the Gray, 1948-1967<BR>6. Soviet Jews, 1967-1987: To Reform, Conform, or Leave?<BR>7. The "Other" Jews of the Former USSR: Georgian, Central Asian, and Mountain Jews<BR>8. The Post-Soviet Era: Winding Down or Starting Up Again?<BR>9. The Paradoxes of Post-Soviet Jewry</P>

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Published 22 April 2001
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A CENTURY OFAMBIVALENCE
A CENTURY OFAMBIVALENCE
This book is a publication of
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© 1988, 2001 by the YIVO Institute for Jewish Research
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No part of this book may be reproduced or utilized in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying and recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system, without permission in writing from the publisher. The Association of American University Presses’ Resolution on Permissions constitutes the only exception to this prohibition.
The paper used in this publication meets the minimum requirements of American National Standard for Information Sciences—Permanence of Paper for Printed Library Materials, ANSI Z39.48-1984.
Manufactured in the United States of America
Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data
Gitelman, Zvi Y. A century of ambivalence : the Jews of Russia and the Soviet Union, 1881 to the present /Zvi Gitelman. — 2nd expanded ed. p. cm. Includes bibliographical references (p.) and index. Photographs from the collections of the Yivo Institute for Jewish Research and private owners, exhibited at the Jewish Museum in New York in Feb. 1988. ISBN 978-0-253-33811-2 (cl : alk. paper) — ISBN 978-0-253-21418-8 (pa : alk. paper) 1. Jews—Russia—History—19th century. 2. Jews—Soviet Union—History. 3. Jews—Russia (Federation)—History. 4. Jews—Russia—Pictorial works. 5. Jews—Soviet Union—Pictorial works. 6. Russia—Ethnic relations. 7. Soviet Union—Ethnic relations. 8. Russia (Federation)—Ethnic relations. 9. Russia—Pictorial works. 10. Soviet Union—Pictorial works. I. Yivo Institute for Jewish Research. II. Title. DS135.R9 G444 2000 947’.004924—dc21 00-058100 3 4 5 6 13 12 11 10
All photos not explicitly credited are from the archives of the YIVO Institute for Jewish Research, New York.
Due to the complexity and diversity of languages used in this book, it proved impossible to follow consistent transliteration systems. Where possible, a modified version of the Library of Congress system was used for Russian and a modified version of the YIVO system for Yiddish.
WHO SHOWED ME THE VIRTUES OF RUSSIAN JEWRY
CONTENTS
Ecknowledgments Introduction
Creativity versus Repression: The Jews in Russia, 1881–19171
Revolution and the Ambiguities of Liberation2
Reaching for Utopia: Building Socialism and a New Jewish Culture3
The Holocaust4
The Black Years and the Gray, 1948–1975
Soviet Jews, 197–1987: To Reform, Conform, or Leave?
The “Other” Jews of the Former USSR: Georgian, Central Asian, and Mountain Jews7
The Post-Soviet Era: Winding Down or Starting Up Again?8
The Paradoxes of Post-Soviet Jewry9
Notes Indexes
ACKNOWLEDGMENTS
Like many other students of East European Jewry, I have for years used the treasure house that is the YIVO Institute for Jewish Research and have appreciated not only its vast and valuale holdings, ut also its dedicated staff and, in earlier years, that special East European atmosphere which they managed to transfer to New York from Vilna, where YIVO was founded in 1925. Therefore when YIVO’s former director, Samuel Norich, invited me to write a photographic history of modern Russian and Soviet Jewry, I welcomed the opportunity to implement an idea that I had often thought aout. It was a privilege and a joy to go through nearly ten thousand photographs now in YIVO’s Russia/Soviet collection while writing this ook. In preparing the first edition, the collection was supplemented y the efforts of Michael Gofman, a Soviet immigrant to America, who collected photographs from other immigrants. Konstantin Miroshnik, with whom it has een a pleasure to work over the years, tracked down hundreds of photographs in Israel with his usual ingenuity and conscientiousness. I was ale to collect other photographs in the Detroit area and in Chicago. In Chicago Rai Yechiel Poupko, Liz Birg, and Henrietta Williams, all formerly of the Jewish Community Centers, were of great assistance in facilitating my efforts. YIVO’s chief archivist, Marek We, was extremely helpful in ferreting out and arranging the materials. His knowledge of the collections and of the history of East European Jewry, and his cheerful cooperation and assistance in this enterprise, made my task much easier and immensely enjoyale. Other YIVO archivists, especially Fruma Mohrer and Roerta Newman, were also helpful in gathering the materials from widely dispersed collections and arranging them for use in this volume. The text of the first edition was read most conscientiously y Professors Mordechai Altshuler, Jonathan Frankel, and Samuel Kassow. Their expertise and willingness to share it were invaluale, and I am profoundly grateful for their collegial assistance. Bonny Fetterman, editor of the first edition, and Lisa Epstein and Chava Boylan of YIVO, who worked on the second edition, as well as Janet Rainowitch of Indiana University Press, have all made important contriutions. My wife, Marlene, Samuel Norich, Marek We, and Myra Waiman also read the original manuscript and made constructive comments. Needless to say, I alone am responsile for the interpretations and any errors of fact in the ook. Major funding for the project, which included a 1988 exhiition at the Jewish Museum in New York drawn from the YIVO photographic collections, came from the J. M. Kaplan Foundation, to which I would like to express my gratitude. The exhiition later was shown at the Jewish Museum in Amsterdam, the Royal Academy of Art in London, the Skirall Museum in Los Angeles, and the Chicago Pulic Lirary. Additional funding for the first edition was provided y the Judaic Studies Program at the University of Michigan and the Edward Gerer Memorial Fund at YIVO, whose assistance I appreciate.
Z. G. Novemer 1999
INTRODUCTION
A century ago the Russian Empire contained the largest Jewish community in the world, numbering about five million people. Today the Jewish population of the former Soviet Union has dwindled to perhaps half a million, but they still constitute perhaps the third-largest Jewish community in the world. In the intervening century the Jews of that area have been at the center of some of the most dramatic events of modern history—two world wars, revolutions, pogroms, political liberation, repression, and the collapse of the USSR. They have gone through dizzyingly rapid upward and downward economic and social mobility. In only one century Russian and Soviet Jews have expanded the literatures of Hebrew and Yiddish and made major contributions to Russian, Ukrainian, and Belorussian literatures, as well as to some of the other cultures of the area. When given the chance, they have contributed greatly to science and technology, scholarship and arts, industry, and popular culture. For these achievements they have been applauded and cursed, praised and envied. The Jews themselves have disagreed profoundly about where and how to make their contributions. Some dedicated their lives to the country of their birth, while others ultimately rejected it and sought to build up other lands. This has been a century of great enthusiasms and profound disappointments. Jews have eagerly embraced programs to reform Russia or to leave it; to lose themselves within the larger population or to develop a distinctive culture of their own; to preserve traditional Jewish culture or to root it out completely. Probably most Jews throughout the period lived their lives without embracing any of the ideologies that competed for their allegiance. They settled for living their family and professional lives as best they could, just like most people in any society. But many wrestled with larger, more abstract uestions. Throughout most of the period Jews felt that their situation was abnormal, in need of improvement. While some believed that this condition could not be changed, others were determined to find ways of improving their situation. For a long time Israeli political parties and movements could trace their ancestry directly back to Russia. Smaller Russian immigrations placed their stamp on Western Europe and Latin America as well.
This turbulent century was only the second in which large numbers of Jews have been under Russian rule. There has long been a Jewish presence in territories of the former Soviet Union, but masses of Jews became Russian subjects only when the empire annexed eastern Poland between 1772 and 1795. Greek inscriptions in areas around the Black Sea attest to the presence of Hellenized Jews in the early centuries of the Common Era, and hundreds of years ago Jews migrated to Central Asia and the Caucasus as well. In the eighth century the rulers and upper classes of the Kingdom of the Khazars in the lower Volga and Crimea adopted Judaism. There were Jews in Kievan Rus in the tenth century and in the Crimea in the thirteenth. But the Russian tsars kept Jews out of their territories as much as they could. In 1727 all Jews were formally expelled from the country, and in 1739 all Jews were ordered to leave territories annexed by Russia from Ukraine and Belorussia. Much of the animus against Jews stemmed from Christian beliefs that the Jews had killed Christ. Tsarina Elizabeth, who ruled from 1741 to 1762, responded to merchants in Ukraine and Riga who were pleading with her to allow Jews to trade there by writing, “From the enemies of Christ I wish neither gain nor profit.” But after the partitions of Poland nearly half a million Jews found themselves under Russian rule. In order to minimize the “damage” they might inflict on Russia, they were confined by law to the “Pale of Settlement,” essentially those areas that they were already inhabiting but that had now come under Russian sovereignty. For the first half century after the partition of 1772 the Jews were able to carry on their traditional way of life pretty much without significant interference. But during this period, as the historian John Klier has observed, “Russian Judeophobia was largely transformed from a simple, primitive hatred based on a view of the Jews as deicides into a set of more sophisticated, modern myths, encompassing a view of the Jews as participants in a conspiracy directed against the very basis of Christian civilization. This view predominated in the second half of the nineteenth century, but its foundations were 1 laid in the period from 1772 to 1825.” Beginning in 1825 the tsars began to deal vigorously with what they saw as their “Jewish problem,” setting off the cycle of repression and relaxation that was to create and re-create enormous Jewish ambivalence toward their homeland. In the